PIKEVILLE, Ky. (Men's Basketball) – For nearly an entire 40 minutes, the Shawnee State men's basketball team game No. 2 University of Pikeville everything it could handle and more, but the Bears were unable to overcome eight second half turnovers and a stifling defense, as SSU dropped its Mid-South Conference opener, 89-85, on Thursday night at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Six players recorded double-figures in the game, including a team-high 17 from Andrew Bendolph (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio). The senior was 6-of-14 from the field in a team-leading 33 minutes. Kai Turner (SO/Columbus, Ohio) finished with a hard-fought 16 points – all coming in the paint – and six rebounds.
Shawnee State not only hung around during the opening 20 minutes, but controlled the tempo for nearly the entire half. SSU fell behind, 8-4, in the opening minutes, but used some hot shooting and an excellent effort on the glass to head into the locker room with a 10-point halftime advantage.
The Bears won the rebounding battle in the first half, 21-11, as big man Jacob Daniels (SO/Peebles, Ohio) crashed the boards for five rebounds in the opening frame. Eight players recorded at least a bucket in the half, as found open looks by milking the shot clock and making the extra pass.
Trailing 20-16 with more than nine minutes on the clock, Daniels connected in the paint after an offensive rebound, Carter hit from three, Daniels found Moore for an easy bucket and Dunston connected. In less than two minutes – at the 7:35 mark – SSU led 25-20.
The Bears continued to hit open looks, with seemingly everything falling for the visitors, as the half continued. SSU shot 18-of-28 (64.3 percent) from the field in the opening half.
At the 3:21 mark, Elliott found Dunston for another easy bucket and the Bears were on top 40-29. They would extend the lead to 12 with 1:26 to play.
In a furious final few seconds, UPIKE's Kevin Kornegay hit a three-pointer from the corner to seemingly send the home team into the locker room with momentum and an eight point deficit. But Bendolph was not ready for the half to end. The senior went coast-to-coast for a layup, and Shawnee State enjoyed a 44-34 advantage at the break.
Pikeville came out in the second half on a mission, scoring two quick buckets to cut the lead to six. Within three minutes, the home squad had cut the lead to four. Shawnee State clung to a lead for nearly 10 minutes, despite furious defensive pressure from UPIKE. Pikeville was finally able to tie the contest with a bucket from Marcari Brooks at the 10:10 mark.
A triple from K.K. Simmons at the 8:56 mark gave UPIKE the lead for the first time since leading 20-18 with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Pikeville would never again relinquish the advantage.
Though Shawnee State made several pushes in the final nine minutes, UPIKE lead by as many as nine, while the score never got closer than four following the eight-minute mark.
That four point deficit came on a three pointer from Elliot with 1:15 to play, and looked even more promising following a steal from Turner on the ensuing possession. The Bears, however, were unable to convert and forced to begin fouling.
A three pointer from Bendolph with 13 seconds to play again cut the UPIKE lead to four, but proved to be too-little-too-late, as that three merely brought the game to the final score, 89-85.
The Bears return to action on Saturday, heading to Williamsburg, Ky., to take on 25th-ranked University of the Cumberlands. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.